In Arizona, a solemn 100-mile procession for fallen firefighters

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
The town of Prescott, Arizona comes together during a candlelight vigil to honor the fallen firefighters on July 2 at Prescott High School. (Credit: CNN)

The town of Prescott, Arizona comes together during a candlelight vigil to honor the fallen firefighters on July 2 at Prescott High School. (Credit: CNN)

PHOENIX, Ariz.  — Crowds lined the streets for a public procession from Phoenix to Prescott, Arizona, on Sunday in honor of 19 firefighters who died last week on the job.

People with no personal connection to members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot unit traveled from across the state and around the country to pay respects. The team died as they battled the Yarnell Hill Fire, which was sparked by lightning some 3.5 miles west of Yarnell.

“These men are heroes. They’ve earned the respect of everyone in this line,” an onlooker told CNN affiliate KTVK as he awaited the procession in Phoenix.

Hearses carrying each casket left the coroner’s office in Phoenix on Sunday afternoon to begin the nearly 100-mile procession to the unit’s hometown of Prescott.

Erratic winds were blamed on the sudden shift in the fire’s direction, trapping the group. As of Sunday, at least 90% of the fire had been contained, officials said. More than 100 homes over 13 square miles had been destroyed.

The firefighters left behind wives and children. One firefighter left behind his pregnant fiance.

A memorial for the fire fighters is planned for Tuesday. Vice President Joe Biden is expected to attend a memorial planned for Tuesday.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.